The Church Rejects No-one, Pope Tells Malta's Young


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(18 Apr 10 - RV) On Sunday evening, Pope Benedict XVI challenged Maltese youth to counter the current secularist culture in Europe by holding out a "hand of friendship to members of all faiths and none".

He also urged them to be proud that their country "both defends the unborn and promotes stable family life by saying no to abortion and divorce".

Pope Benedict was answering the questions put to him by a young man representing those who feel marginalised by the Church, a committed Church member, a couple preparing for marriage and a young man preparing for the priesthood.

A flotilla of nearly 100 small regatta boats had earlier escorted Pope Benedict on the crossing from Kalkara to the Waterfront of Valetta's Grand Harbour where tens of thousands of young people had been waiting since midday.

Their songs and chants were drowned out by the blaring fog horns of ships and the blasts of cannons fired from the hill tip town as the catamaran on which Pope Benedict was travelling arrived at the Waterfront.

There he told them "In the context of European society, Gospel values are once again becoming counter-cultural, just as they were at the time of Saint Paul". "You may well encounter opposition to the Gospel message. To all of you who wish to follow Christ, I say, do not be afraid!"

A young man representing those who feel in some way alienated from the Church had earlier told Pope Benedict that "one of our deepest wounds stems from the fact that it seems almost as if we are less readily accepted and treated with dignity by the Christian community than we are by all other members of society." "We too wish to give our contribution to the Catholic community" he added.

"God rejects no-one. And the Church rejects no-one", was the Popes reply. "God loves every one of us with a depth and intensity that we can hardly begin to imagine".